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Hosanna or Crucify Him!?

Hosanna or Crucify Him?

This Sunday is traditionally called Palm Sunday in remembrance of Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem. The people greeted Him with loud acclamations. Later in the week they shouted for His crucifixion. Here is Matthew’s account of what he witnessed that day.

Matthew 21:1-15 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away."

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: "Say to the Daughter of Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'"

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!" When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?" The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.'" 

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant.

It was Passover. The greatest of all the Jewish feasts, and people from all over Israel made their pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate this holiday commemorating God’s salvation by freeing the Jews from Egyptian bondage during the days of Moses.

HOSANNA!!  (Save us), the multitude shouted at the time of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. The Jews were hoping Jesus would save them from the oppression of Rome. When shouted “hosanna” to Jesus, it indicates they saw in Him the fulfillment of their Messianic expectations. But Jesus came to save them from a greater oppressor than Rome.

Indeed, Jesus rode into Jerusalem that day on a mission of salvation and deliverance. He knew what would happen there…how He would be treated…how He would die. But He had a mission to bring salvation and deliverance by becoming the Passover Lamb of God.

Just a few days earlier Jesus made the statement, Luke 19:10For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.” The purpose of His mission was to save all mankind, not just the Israelites.

As Jesus rode into town, the people let loose with joyous, uninhibited praise, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” They were excited. By spreading their coats on the road, as well as freshly cut palm branches, it was their version of rolling out the red carpet. The Messiah (the savior) is here!

What a scene that must have been. The Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke the people for saying such things. Sadly, these religious leaders would convince some of these same people shouting “Hosanna!” to shout “Crucify him!” in just a few days.

Jesus responded, Luke 19:40I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out!”

God deserves praise. And if people won’t do it, the rest of His Creation will continue to cry out. Majestic mountains, mighty oceans, the expansive stars of the universe, trees, hills, and yes, even rocks scream forth the praises of the Creator – the One God – I AM, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is The One who rode into Jerusalem on a humble donkey to face a cruel death at the hands of sinful men.

Imagine Jesus riding down your street. What would you lay down before Him? What would you cry out? Hosanna or crucify Him? Or would you say and do nothing at all?

Praise can be done publicly and privately. It can be done in a variety of ways. Spoken words, printed words, words that are sung in a song. Praise can be painted, signed with hands, just about any mode of communication is an avenue for praise.

Praise is part of what we’ve been called to do. 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

If we’re followers of Jesus, part of our mission is to praise Him. Praise means to pay Jesus a compliment. Put in a good word for Him. Say good things about Him and tell what He’s done. Praise is a way to tell Him, “Thank you!” Make a joyful noise, cheer on His behalf.

So again, we need to ask ourselves this question: If Jesus came riding down your street, what would you lay down before Him? What would you say? Or would you do and say nothing at all?

To answer that best, we should consider how we praise Him in the church building. Where two or three are gathered in His Name, He is present. This is a safe place. Is there anything standing in the way of our ability to praise Jesus?

We may not want to admit it, but perhaps pride stands in the way of our praise. I wonder if sometimes we overlook pride, as it relates to praise, by referring to it as temperament. We say, “Well, I’m just not a very expressive person. My temperament doesn’t lend itself to the kind of praise that took place on Palm Sunday. I’m reserved.” That may be true, but I wonder how you act at a sporting event. If we don’t at least attempt to praise Jesus in church, the odds are very likely that we’re not doing it anywhere else.

So I ask, if Jesus came riding down our street, would we be willing to lay pride down and praise Him? If we would be willing to do that, and if we believe in His Presence when we gather together, why do we hold back our praise?

Perhaps it is fear of man that stands in our way of praise.

The classic example of someone who had an opportunity to put in a good word for Jesus and was just too scared to do it is Peter. After Jesus had been arrested, Peter sort of lurked behind in the shadows to see how things would turn out. Someone said to him, “You were with Jesus, weren’t you?”

What a perfect opportunity for Peter say, “I sure was. And let me tell you about Him. I saw Him heal a deaf man, give sight to a blind man, and make a cripple walk. One time I saw Him stand up in a boat during a storm, and when He commanded the wind to cease, the storm stopped. I saw Him walk on water. I’ve even seen Him bring people back to life. Why, just this past week He raised a guy named Lazarus, who had been dead four days. I tell you, Jesus is innocent. He’s the Son of God! Yes, I follow Him and I proudly call Him my Lord.”

But of course, Peter didn’t say any of that. He said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Within a few moments, he denied knowing Jesus two more times. He could have praised Jesus, but he was afraid he might get arrested if he acknowledged Jesus.

Presently, we don’t have to fear arrest, but we fear what people might think of us if we praise Jesus.

So if Jesus came riding down your street, and if fear is standing in your way of praise, would you be willing to lay your fear down before Him?

What if someone gave you a million dollars—how would you react? Would it give you joy—would you thank him? Jesus died so that you can have everything He has! Because of what Jesus did and your faith in Him, you are a God’s child and an heir of God’s Kingdom! That should make you joyful and full of praise towards Jesus!

However, fear and pride will rob you of the joy of your salvation, because fear of man and pride are sins. Therefore, repent of those sins and praise Jesus who saved you and gave you eternal life and all that heaven promises! The joy of your salvation will return.

 Luke 1:68 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.

For example, at church – sing, clap, raise your hands, close your eyes, bow your head – just don’t confuse temperament with pride! Don’t be afraid of what people think. We are here to worship and praise Jesus! The Holy Spirit and Scripture will keep us balanced.

1 Corinthians 14:40 But all things should be done decently and in order.

With a friend or co-worker, instead of saying, “That really worked out well,” praise the Lord by saying, “God sure took care of that one!”

At home, sing a love song to Jesus. Whisper it or sing it at the top of your lungs. People will praise their favorite football team at the top of their voice. Why not praise Jesus?

Begin each of your prayers with praise. Jesus taught us to say, “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name” That means “holy is your Name”. The angels continuously cry holy, holy, holy in God’s presence. If you don’t want to praise Him here, why do you want to go to Heaven?

Listen to this: Psalm 150 Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.

And if things that have breath ever stop their praises, Jesus said the rocks will still cry out! Because Jesus, the King of Kings, the Creator of all, is worthy of praise!

Psalm 145:10 All your works praise you, LORD; your faithful people extol you. Be one of His faithful people!

When I consider that first Palm Sunday, I am struck by the thought that a coat might not be worth much after a donkey and a crowd of people walk on it. In a crowd like that there was no guarantee that once you laid it down you were ever going to get it back. But the Word leads us to believe those people probably weren’t worried about their coats at that moment when Jesus rode by. No, those people, many of them probably very poor, weren’t as concerned about coats as they were about praising and honoring Jesus. For the people on Palm Sunday, praising Jesus might have cost them the only coat they owned. To them, it was a sacrifice.

The Bible speaks of a sacrifice of praise. Hebrews 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name.

Praise is appropriate, isn’t it, for someone who saved our lives by sacrificing his own? As a church, for us worship is first and foremost about celebrating and praising Jesus Christ.

Psalm 140:13 Surely the righteous will praise your name, and the upright will live in your presence.

Visitors looking for a good church, a place where they sense God’s presence and love, will discover the presence of Jesus Christ in the midst of a worshipping church.

So what is worship? Singing Praises, Taking of Communion, Studying Scripture? All of these different expressions of devotion are methods of worship. But we can do all these things and still offer up empty expressions of love to God if our worship doesn’t yield a specific result: A LIFESTYLE OF DEVOTION TO GOD.

Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

Worship that pleases God is a worship that makes a difference in how we live. Without a faith that works, we have a dead religion, even if the service is lively. Many Christians feel that worship is “showing up on Sunday Morning” and singing the songs, taking Communion, listening to the sermon, and so on. While these acts should be incorporated in our worship, God is examining our hearts for true worship while we do them. Those who worship Him, worship in spirit and truth.

Isaiah 29:13 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

You can tell whether you are daily worshipping Jesus in spirit and truth, by the fruit produced in you. Are you producing the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) or the fruit of your flesh?

What comes out of your mouth? Our mouth reveals the condition of our heart. Is there heart-felt praise on your lips—do you praise Jesus at all—or are you speaking gossip and backbiting your brother and sister?

Do you even long for the fruit of the Spirit or do you want to remain in control? Do you even desire intimacy with God that expresses itself daily with uninhibited worship in everything you do and say? None of this is possible without being filled with the Holy Spirit.

And you cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit without first believing Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Savior and Redeemer of your soul, who shed His Blood so that your sin could be forgiven.

To enter into an intimate relationship of praise, worship, and communion with God Almighty, repent of your sin, self-determination, and selfish living. Give your life to Jesus, making Him your Lord, by dying to self through baptism. Then you will receive a new life born of the Holy Spirit. Worship and praise will come naturally to you when you have this joyful, intimate relationship with God, through Jesus Christ.

Maybe you did this years ago and your worship has become dry, rote, and inhibited. You realize you have been focused on self and what others think instead of Jesus. I urge you to repent of your lack of praise and worship this morning. Ask your Father in Heaven daily to fill you with the Holy Spirit. He will make you a living sacrifice of praise through everything you do and say.